Our Long National Nightmare Is Almost Over (Maybe)

It is hard to believe that this is the final day of primary campaigning. Not even Hillary Clinton, despite all the tortured logic used by her campaign to date, can find a way to pretend that more primaries are needed to settle the nomination. With Bill Clinton, we might not be discussing what the meaning of “is” is, but the meaning of “campaign” is now a question. At a town hall Bill Clinton said, “”I want to say also, that this may be the last day I’m ever involved in a campaign of this kind.” Does this mean he realizes it is the end of Hillary’s campaign, or does “campaign of this kind” only refer to primaries?

The rest of the campaign is also giving off mixed signals. Hillary is still talking about going after superdelegates. We saw how she continued claiming after the Puerto Rico vote that she has won the popular vote, despite the fact that she did not win it based upon any reasonable count, and despite the fact that the nomination battle is based upon delegates.

Despite such talk of going after the superdelegates, pretty much everyone knows that this will not work. Most likely several superdelegates who are holding off for the end of voting will endorse Obama after tomorrow’s primaries, placing the nomination mathematically out of reach. Even many Clinton supporters are likely to abandon her if she continues this fight. Tom Vilsack, a national co-chairman of Clinton’s campaign, said Sunday: “It does appear to be pretty clear that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee. After Tuesday’s contests, she needs to acknowledge that he’s going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him.”

There are also signs that the campaign realizes it is over. Marc Ambinder reported four such signs this morning:

1) She’s going to speak Tuesday night from New York, not from South Dakota or Montana.

(2) The Politico reports that members of her advance staff are being recalled to New York and being given hints that their employment is over; yes, Clinton won’t have any more states to campaign in, but the Obama campaign is not shedding its advance staff after Tuesday

(3) Cheryl Mills, a very senior Clinton adviser, intends to return, full-time, to her job as senior vice president at New York University. (Note: aides say I am making way too much out of this news; Mills would surely stay on board Clinton’s campaign if Clinton continues. And truth be told, I did not contact Mills before I wrote this item, something I should have done.)

(4) Junior members of the staff are making plans for vacation, and they’re not receiving any push-back from their bosses.

The first is not conclusive as the Clinton campaign denies that Tuesday’s speech will be a concession speech. Even if we drop the first, Ambinder added another:

Clinton Campaign staffers and former campaign staffers are being urged by the Clinton campaign’s finance department to turn in their outstanding expense receipts by the end of the week. That’s a sign, to them, that the campaign wants to get its affairs in order soon. If Clinton were staying in the race, there’d be no real reason to collect these receipts now; she’d still be raising and spending money from the same primary campaign account. The campaign is in arrears to the tune of about $11 million.

This might still leave the door open for Clinton to continue a small scale campaign and to try to woo superdelegates privately, but it is hard to believe that Clinton will either continue a meaningful campaign or that she will have any success regardless of what she decides to do. Hopefully she will realize that her own reputation, as well as the prospects for the Democratic Party, will come out ahead should she do the right thing and concede the nomination this week. Besides, this would still leave the door open for the party to turn to her should Obama suffer any of the dire fates she has floated in recent weeks.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Floyd says:

    Your post’s title is exactly what I’ve been thinking.

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